Sunday, August 06, 2006

Gaza TV | Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Update

Arab owned and operated digital broadcasters in the Middle East find their staff being caught in the Israeli Defense Forces gun sights in the current conflict.

Incidents involving TV news crews have taken place in both the Lebanon and Palestine territories.

Not one complaint has been made against Hezbollah at the time of writing.

On July 26, The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) based in Brussels added its voice to the growing list in condemning an Israeli army attack on a Palestinian TV news crew in Gaza in which a cameraman was wounded – the sixth attack on media staff in the region in the last three weeks.

The IFJ, as a non-political organisation takes interest in professional news staff working for print, online or electronic media organisations.

IFJ General Secretary, Aidan White made it clear: “Israel needs to investigate all of the recent attacks on media and it must eliminate this pattern of targeting."

Mr White does not mince his words. He said: “The appalling perception is of soldiers opening fire on unarmed journalists and of intimidation of Arab journalists to keep them from covering the news in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon.”

It was on July 26, that Palestine TV news cameraman, Ibrahim al-Atlah was seriously wounded when Israeli forces fired on the Palestine TV crew east of the Gaza Strip. According to reports, al-Atlah is now paralysed due to his injuries.

The latest attack raises new fears of mounting media casualties in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon since the latest round of violence began.

Israeli air raids earlier in the conflict had hit transmission towers used by several Lebanese television channels and killed media worker Suleiman Chidiac, a technician working for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC). Two others were wounded in the strikes when relay stations for Future TV, Hezbollah-run Al-Manar television and LBC, the nation's leading private network, were attacked by Israeli bombs.

Those air strikes followed the July 13 strike by Israeli helicopters on the Al-Manar headquarters outside of Beirut that wounded seven people, including a television employee. Israeli aircraft later attacked an Al-Manar transmission tower in eastern Lebanon.

Last week, Israeli forces in Nablus fired on a news crew of TV satellite channel Al Jazeera and injured technician Wael Tantous. On July 8, photographer Mohammad Az Zanoun was shot by Israeli forces as he took photographs in Gaza.

On July 26, the IFJ wrote to Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, Chief of the General Staff, Israel Defense Forces seeking an investigation into each of these cases. “It is imperative that we have answers about these incidents otherwise speculation about targeting media will persist,” said White. “The Israeli authorities must make it clear to military commanders that unarmed journalists and media are non-combatants. They must not come under fire.”

The cites at least six attacks on media staff or structures since July 8:

• On July 26, Palestinian cameraman Ibrahim al-Atlah was seriously wounded after Israeli forces fired on a news crew of Palestine TV east of the Gaza Strip.

• On July 23, photographer Layal Nejib was killed in southern Lebanon after an Israeli missile attack.

• On July 22, Israeli air raids hit transmission stations used by several Lebanese television channels and killed media worker Suleiman Chidiac, a technician working for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC). Two others were wounded in the strikes when relay stations for Future TV, Hezbollah-run Al-Manar television and LBC, the nation's leading private network, were hit by Israeli bombs.

• On July 19, Israeli forces in Nablus fired on a news crew of TV satellite channel Al Jazeera and injured technician Wael Tantous.

• On July 13, Israeli helicopters fired on the Al-Manar headquarters outside of Beirut, wounding seven people, including a television employee. Israeli aircraft later attacked an Al-Manar transmission tower in eastern Lebanon.

• On July 8, photographer Mohammad Az Zanoun was shot by Israeli forces as he took photographs in Gaza.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists (including me) in more than 110 countries. It produces a useful booklet for all media working in war zones. http://www.ifj.org

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